On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that a new abortion law in Texas become effective immediately. The law mandates that women must listen to the fetal heartbeat sounds before undergoing an abortion, and requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and play the fetal sounds for every woman within 24 hours of an abortion.
It also requires providers to show and describe the features of the fetus. While women can opt out of viewing the images and hearing the heartbeat, they will be forced to listen to a description of the exam.
After the U.S. Court of Appeals had previously overturned a federal judge’s decision to block the ruling on Tuesday, and stated that the “sonogram requirements do not infringe on abortion providers’ free-speech rights,” on Thursday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott pushed even further by asking the appeals court to make its decision effective immediately.
Less than a day later, the appeals court granted the request which effectively obliterated the typical the 22-day waiting period.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights was outraged:
There is no justification for Texas to have insisted on the immediate enforcement of this intrusive and demeaning law, nor the court of appeals to have granted it without giving us an opportunity to be heard.
The law will give exceptions to women in the cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormality, and not require those women to have to listen to the description of the ultrasound. Women who are not “exempt” can decline viewing the ultrasound and listening to the heart beat but will be forced to hear the physician’s description of the ultrasound results.